Come together: Living in a converged world

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Expanding connectivity will bring about widespread convergence of technologies, products, industries and vendors--so predicts Frost & Sullivan analyst Sarwant Singh in his new book New Mega Trends.

With more than 80 billion connected devices, 9 billion mobile phones, 5 billion Internet users, five connected devices for every individual, 10 connected devices for every household and 500 devices with unique digital IDs per square kilometer, consumers and businesses will pave the way to a digital planet by 2020, Singh argues.

Singh sees a convergence of the telecom, IT, energy/infrastructure and automation/building control industries, which will then lead to a convergence of head-to-head competition among companies in these seemingly separate spaces.

Companies that are close to the convergence point and offer services in two or three of these markets currently include IBM (NYSE: IBM), Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Siemens (NYSE: SI), General Electric (NYSE: GE) and Schneider Electric.

This convergence is certainly taking place in the telecom/IT space, with the move toward unified communications epitomizing this trend, and energy sector firms are dabbling in telecom.

But whether this trend will spread to the automation/building control industry remains to be seen. It would certainly be an interesting world where Rockwell Automation competes with SAP in the same marketplace. -Fred